HMS Hector (F45)

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HMS Hector (F45).jpg
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Class and type: Armed merchant cruiser
Name: HMS Hector
Builder: Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company (Greenock, Scotland)
Launched: 18 June 1924
Commissioned: 20 December 1939
Fate: Sunk in an air attack on 5 April 1942
Refloated and scrapped in 1946
General characteristics
Tonnage: 11,198 tons grt
Length: 498.5 ft (151.9 m)
Beam: 62.3 ft (19.0 m)
Draught: 34.9 ft (10.6 m)
Propulsion: Steam turbines
Speed: 15 knots
Armament: 6 x 152mm guns
2 x 76mm guns
Notes: Yard number 521

HMS Hector was an armed merchant cruiser of the Royal Navy. Initially built as a cargo liner, she was requisitioned by the Admiralty during the Second World War. She was sunk in a Japanese air attack in 1942 and was later raised and scrapped.

Construction and civilian service

Hector was built in the interwar period by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, of Greenock, Scotland.[1] She was launched on 18 June 1924, and delivered to her owners, the Ocean Steamship Co Ltd (A. Holt & Co) on 23 September 1924.[1] The company registered her in Liverpool, and she made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to the Far East on 24 September 1924.[2] She served with the company for the next 15 years.

With the Royal Navy

Hector was requisitioned by the Admiralty on 27 August 1939, and they proceeded to refit her as an armed merchant cruiser. This process was completed on 20 December 1939.[3] In January 1940 she was assigned to the New Zealand station, where she served until July that year. In August she moved to the East Indies station, where she spent the next two years, until February 1942. She was then assigned to operate with the Eastern Fleet in March 1942.[3]

She was drydocked in Colombo to prepare for decommissioning.[2] Whilst in harbour with other ships, the port came under attack from Japanese carrier-based aircraft, as part of the Indian Ocean raid. Colombo was targeted on 5 April in the Easter Sunday Raid. The Japanese force, led by Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, had hoped to catch the remnants of the Eastern Fleet in harbour. However, most of the fleet had left several days earlier. Japanese aircraft found only three targets in the harbour, and so proceeded to attack them. The Hector was hit by bombs and set on fire. She was abandoned and later sank. The Japanese also sank the destroyer HMS Tenedos in the harbour, before locating and sinking the cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire out at sea. The wreck of the Hector was nominally returned to the Ocean Steamship Company on 20 April 1942, but the ongoing war meant that she was not refloated until 1946.[2] She was then beached five miles north of Colombo for assessment.[1] It was concluded that she was beyond economical repair, and she was sold for scrapping.[3]